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Councillor challenges Colwood mayor for top job

Coun. Doug Kobayashi will challenge incumbent Rob Martin for mayor's job

The Colwood council table will likely have at least three new faces after October’s municipal election, with Coun. Doug Kobayashi’s announcement that he will take on Mayor Rob Martin for the top job.

Councillors Gordie Logan and Michael Baxter are not expected to seek re-election.

Martin, who said he will confirm today that he will be running again, is a small-business owner first elected to council in 2011.

He said he is proud of the work done over the past four years to shepherd growth in the community, including attracting the Royal B.C. Museum’s research and collections building, a seniors care facility, housing and millions of dollars worth of commercial developments.

Martin said one of his key priorities is to continue to work on rapid-bus infrastructure as well as his passion project — a West Shore passenger ferry from Royal Bay to Ship Point in downtown Victoria.

“I think we’re really close to getting that full feasibility study done,” he said, noting he has been in constant communication with the province, Royal Bay developers and the Royal Canadian Navy about the possibility.

Martin said one of his frustrations with local governments is not taking on projects that will pay off 10 to 30 years down the line.

He said people will one day ask why Colwood didn’t capture the land to make it possible when it had the chance and it was more affordable. “I see that that’s where we’re going to be in 30 years,” he said. “We will have Royal Beach in Royal Bay completely built out and we’re not going to have the land available to have a ferry system.”

Kobayashi, who was first elected to council in 2018, said that kind of project shows the difference between him and Martin.

“This is about getting back to what we’re supposed to be doing at our core services and making sure we are doing it really well,” said Kobayashi, a self-described fiscal conservative.

“We can vision all we want, but we must bring some realities to some of these what I call ill-conceived vanity projects.

“We need a pragmatic person in that place right now and I think I bring that to the table. I’m very pragmatic.”

Kobayashi, a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 20 years with the Royal Canadian Air Force, worked another 27 years as a professional engineer and senior executive in the aerospace industry with a number of firms, including CAE Aviation and Conair Aviation.

He said Colwood needs to dial back the current building pace and ensure council is listening to what the community needs.

That’s why he decided to run for mayor, he said. “During my time as a councillor here, I’ve been that one guy that’s always fought taxes and tax increases,” he said.

Martin said council has been fiscally responsible, noting the district has been growing about 2.5 per cent per year.

“That’s a really purposeful build on our part that we’re going to continue to build. We’re going to continue to add housing, but we’re going to do it in a systematic way,” he said, which means gradual increases of traffic. “And hopefully as you see those increases, we’re going to be building the infrastructure behind that to support that.”

Martin noted the first one per cent of property taxes — this year it is a 4.3 per cent tax increase — goes into a reserve fund earmarked for sustainable infrastructure replacement.

“We’re thinking about 30 years from now, and we’re making sure that we’re putting the money away today so that when things like that have to be replaced, we can,” he said.

Kobayashi said he will release his full platform in September, after he spends more time hearing from residents, but it will likely be shaped by issues that include affordable housing, health, senior care, transportation and the environment.

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